In the end, there was just one team who wanted it more than the other.
Up 3 games to 2 against San Mig Coffee, Rain or Shine used their fresher legs and their endless tenacity to grind out a 90-83 victory, bringing them to a waiting game to see if they will face TNT or Alaska in the Philippine Cup Finals.
It was a seesaw match-up until the last 4 minutes of the game when Rain or Shine broke San Mig Coffee through some pivotal effort plays.
Aside from holding James Yap to a horrendous 6 points on 1/7 from three, 1/8 from 2, and 1/5 from the free throw line, Rain or Shine absolutely feasted on the offensive rebounds (24 to SMC’s 9), with around 6 of those coming in critical moments of the 4th quarter.
Up 80-73 with 7 minutes to play, San Mig Coffee played excellent defense and forced Gabe Norwood to take a desperation trey, but three SMC players were unable to stop a singular Beau Belga from grabbing the offensive rebound, which lead to two free throws and a 9 point lead.
It was all Rain or Shine after that, leading all the way until the final buzzer.
Some very interesting figures and statistics:
- San Mig Coffee was led by PJ Simon’s conference high 29 points. Aside from him, it seemed like nobody else showed up to play for SMC.
- Rain or Shine recorded the most rebounds in a game this conference with 62.
- All Rain or Shine players logged in at least 10 minutes of play except for TY Tang with 8.
- At least 5 players (Norwood, Arana, Ibanez, Rodriguez and Matias) spent time guarding James Yap last night. All gave James different, but very physical looks. Coach Yeng deliberately kept the pressure on the San Mig Coffee gunner the whole game, pressing a body on him once he stepped passed half court. When the defender showed signs of fatigue, Guiao would immediately replace the defender with another. James Yap was in no scoring slump in this series. It was just great defense.